Gransnet forums

Estrangement

Do I tell my estranged sisters?

(21 Posts)
Lexin Sun 03-May-20 15:47:48

This is my first post so hello everyone. This is a bit of a long story.....
From Aug 2016 to Sep 2018, my eldest sister became my mum’s carer (circumstances for my sister was that she was made redundant and was fed up of work) but during this time, she emotionally abused my mum at least once a week, by telling her she hated caring for her (which would upset my mum greatly to the point she would say she wished she would die), then not giving her meals on time (cos she had better things to do like watching a TV show) and to complete neglect (not coming at all or going on holiday for weeks without telling us). All the while, she claimed carers allowance (A UK benefit) which my mum topped up with cash from her pension. I was at that time living 200 miles away but when I found out this was going on, I started coming up at least once a month on extended leave to give her a break. My eldest sister only had to prep and cook meals for my mum and clean the house once in a while as my mum was able to go to the bathroom on her own. My brother who was living in Canada came back 4 months of the year to give my eldest sister a break. My middle sister said she would help out like I did, but to this day, help has never materialised (on going excuses ranging from her sick husband (he isn’t sick) to brexit) but she’s been very vocal with criticisms and asking my mum to forgive my eldest sister. She lives near me so about 200 miles away but has only visited my mum less than 8 times in the last 5 years - she moved back to the UK from the US citing wanting to see mum more. These interventions did not help at all as my eldest sister continued to carry on with this abuse. We offered her a salary which she rudely turned down. We offered to get carers in to take over multiple times (this would mean my eldest sister would lose the benefit and extra cash my mum paid her), but these offers were also refused as she would say then it’s ok and she’ll continue caring if we all chipped in with help. Things didn’t change.

So in Sep 2018, my brother left his job in Canada and came back to become my mum’s carer (after much organisation, he arranged to be able to do his job from the UK and from home). Since then, things have lead to a complete break (arguments) of our relationships with my sisters when my mum in Dec 2019 left a video message to them both, telling them to stop all these arguments and told them both that if she passed, she would tell the hospital that my sisters were responsible due to constantly arguing with her when she is so ill. Since then, both sisters have not contacted my mum for these last 5 months, even with covid rife and she’s in the vulnerable group. Although one sister did send a birthday card and Mother’s Day card (online Moonpig) which both fall in March but mentioned nothing about how my mum was doing and if she was well. My mum has been hugely heartbroken due to lack of any concern. So at this time...
It is with sadness, that I now have to write that my mum passed away a few days ago (not covid). We still haven’t told my sisters. Family friends are telling us we should tell them yet those that are close (my uncle) who know this story and have been involved, tell us (as we feel) that we have no obligation to do this. Before my mum passed and she was coherent (she developed severe Dementia during her last weeks), she would ask if ‘they’ (my sisters) had called. The reply was always ‘no’ but we would always follow this with asking my mum if she wanted us to call them to which she replied ‘no’. As you guys can relate to what we’ve been through, I just wanted some advice. I still feel that we don’t owe our sisters anything. The family friends are concerned that my sisters will create problems and lies about us when they do find out and if we tell them now, then ‘we’ve done our duty’.

Smileless2012 Sun 03-May-20 17:42:54

My sincere condolences for your loss Lexinflowers.

I agree that you owe your sisters nothing, that said I in your position I would tell them that your's and their mother has died. I don't see what problems they can cause, their lies will mean nothing as everyone who knows how they've behaved will see any lies for what they are.

It would be unwise IMO to keep the news of her death from them as the last thing you need is to give them a reason to create unpleasantness.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss.

ExD Sun 03-May-20 18:03:16

I agree with smileless, you have to tell them. I don't know what the rules are about funerals, but if you start arrangements right away it's possible they won't be able to attend, so that's one line of unpleasantness dodged.
I don't think you are honour bound to tell them the date and time but that's imo.
I.m sorry this has happened to you especially after the traumatic time you've had with the caring situation.
I just hope you don't find yourself in my situation and find she's left everything to your sisters because she made her will ages ago and hadn't got round to changing it. Do check

Tangerine Sun 03-May-20 18:09:03

I think you should tell them as they will only use the fact that you haven't as a weapon against you in the future.

You can tell them in writing or an email if you don't want to talk to them.

BlueBelle Sun 03-May-20 18:18:38

Of course they need to be told you don’t have to get into any dialogue with them but they need the sad news
You cant not tell them their mum has died however poor they have been in their treatment
Very sad story

Missfoodlove Sun 03-May-20 20:56:07

My brother was estranged from the family.
When my father died I phoned him immediately.
It was the right thing to do.

PamelaJ1 Sun 03-May-20 21:18:15

What a very sad story. You have had a very difficult time and I send my sympathy.

IMO you must tell them otherwise you may regret not doing the ‘right’ thing. You need no regrets, you need to get on with life with a clear conscience.

Their consciences are their problems.

wildswan16 Sun 03-May-20 21:24:26

I think you know that they have to be told. Does it have to be you who contacts them. Could your brother help with this? The sooner this is done the better.

I am so sorry that your mother's passing came with such difficult circumstances.

Hetty58 Sun 03-May-20 21:32:20

What are your reasons for not telling them?

Grammaretto Sun 03-May-20 21:52:05

You have to let them know, of course.
What a very sad tale.
You have all lost your mother. Sending hugs flowers

Anniebach Sun 03-May-20 22:02:52

She is their mother, do tell them

CherryCezzy Sun 03-May-20 22:29:00

I can understand your reluctance but telling them is the right thing to do. I don't know who is technically or legally her direct next of kin but if you are not named as or not legally her next of kin that person who is has to be informed. Obviously, I don't know (nor am I enquiring) whether she left a will and if so what the terms in the will are. If she hasn't left a will and you are not the named next of kin it could open a can of worms if you do not inform your sisters. If she has left one and there is provision in it for your sisters, again they have to know.
I think you knew the answer to your question really but I understand your need to have confirmation from others.
Sorry for your loss 💐

dontmindstayinghome Sun 03-May-20 22:46:44

I also think you should tell them, you will just have to decide whether to tell them before or after the funeral.
Their behaviour has been dreadful but for them to find out by chance or from someone else outside the family would be awful.
I am estranged from my Father (his choice) but I will be very upset if someone in the family doesn't let me know when he passes away (he might be gone now for all I know)!

paddyanne Sun 03-May-20 22:50:03

My sister abdicated from the family when my dad died,basically because she didn't want to help care for mum .Over the next 12 years mum was frequently ill and hospitalised,she was doubly incontinent and she demanded a lot of attention from my other sister and I .I cooked every meal evry day for her even when she was in a hospital for 7 weeks.When it began I had a 5 year old ,a teenager ,a business to run and a long suffering husband.When my mum was in her last days she told us not to tell mey sister as she didn't want her turning up at the funeral crying crocodile tears.
We didn't feel we could do that so we did tell her she did turn up.Supported on both sides by her inlaws and weeping buckets.She somehow let everyone think it was us who didn't want her to help with mum then she left.We haven't seen her in the 15 years since mum died.I dont consider her my sister and she apparently thinks the same ,her children weren't allowed to see mum,even now her children pass us in the street .Its sad ,but it cant be fixed.Let your sister know and then walk away ,she'll find a way to turn it round so you look at fault.I know I did more thancould be expected for mum so I have no regrets.Thats how you should feel.Take care,stay safe x

Lexin Sun 03-May-20 22:58:09

Hi all,

Thanks for your input in this. It is certainly something to think about so thank you. It’s just difficult as this will cause more confrontations. Hetty55, you asked why we haven’t told them. It’s really because of the way it all ended where my eldest sister sent me a message last year wishing my mum would die. She also told my mum that she wouldn’t be coming to her funeral last Autumn. My mum has done everything for her from helping her financially to buy her house to putting up her destitute boyfriend in her house. She has absolutely heartless. The 2nd reason is my middle sister is likely to cause confrontations regarding the inheritance. My mum changed her will last year cutting both of them out and forbade us from telling them. They have both before voiced concerns that my brother is likely to get a ‘free’ house when mum passes....and all this was a ploy to get the inheritance (my brother is pretty wealthy in his own right). My mum left a video will msg for them both as she was aware this could cause a problem. So really, we just want to avoid any confrontation until probate is completed. As we want a bit of peace to get through this grief.

NotSpaghetti Mon 04-May-20 00:29:45

Irrespective of all this mess and pain Lexin I would still tell them.
I'm sure it will cause problems but they will find out anyway and decide you are hiding things and worse. If you tell them you will know you have done the right thing.

Good luck.

3nanny6 Mon 04-May-20 13:02:43

Lexin : so sorry to hear of your mother passing away. Looking back on her life for the last few years it was not really happy, how sad that the other sisters showed little concern for her.

Considering the way your eldest sister treated her mother when she was her carer you owe her no consideration yourself.
I personally would arrange the funeral between yourself and brother and do it that way. As soon as you have had the funeral write to the sisters and tell them about your mum and leave them to it. You have had little contact with your sisters for several months so when this is over with just get on with your own life and do not see them if you don't want to. Stay safe in the times we currently are in .

Lexin Mon 04-May-20 21:29:39

Thank you nanny6. We were going to do exactly what you said. It seems that serendipity is at play as my middle estranged sister called today (Has had no contact since 24 Dec 2019) and left a message for our mum. She said she was worried as she had not heard anything. She then ended this by asking mum to call back ‘if she can’. Four hours later, I get a text from my estranged teenage niece (my mum’s only granddaughter but also estranged, daughter of middle sister), asking me one question “did she die in pain”.
She ended this message by saying her parents do not know that she’s texted me. I’m assuming that my niece is referring to my mum as ‘she’. There is no mention of loss, sorrow or any empathy. Nor any sympathy for what my brother and I are going through. But my niece did us a favour as she really put the spanner in the works for my sister and whatever game she is playing. So my sisters already know, we do know how or by who but that is now irrelevant.
So for now, thank you all for your messages. I am tired of all these games so after the funeral which is quite soon, we will leave a message to tell both sisters that my mum has passed away and say our final goodbyes to my sisters as well.
Nanny6, as you alluded to in your message, you are right; my brother nor I want anything to do with my sisters or their families. So very soon, we will be free from having to know or interact with such despicable people. I leave here with the knowledge that my mum passed away in the care of family that genuinely loved her. I hope everyone else here has someone in their lives that they can truly rely on in their time of need.

3nanny6 Mon 04-May-20 23:49:34

Lexin you may not read this but I am happy that yourself and brother can have the funeral for your mother. Once you have done that you can say a final goodbye to your two sisters as well.

I have some knowledge of how it feels as we had something similar in my family and the despicable ones we said goodbye to was the best thing we could have done. We have never spoken to them since.
Take care you have had a difficult time and now you have to grieve for your mother.

NotSpaghetti Tue 05-May-20 23:40:14

I know you have made a decision now but just wonder if by asking “did she die in pain” she might actually have been concerned? She obviously didn’t want anyone to know she was texting. It’s possible.
Please just text her if you can bear it. She is still young.

I hope when this is over you find a space to grieve and some peace. You have been through a lot.

Mebster Wed 06-May-20 02:30:44

I would advise telling her ASAP. Not telling her leaves you open to challenges regarding her estate and just sets up long term family problems. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's hard to lose your mum and at the same time be estranged from siblings.